I am seated on the floor of my living room. Alone. Wondering how I let myself get here.
I have set up an elaborate security system to prevent Depression from breaking in and stealing my joy. Years of therapy, meditating, devouring every piece of reading material about emotional health & wellness I can get my hands on. I signed up for all the yoga classes, massages, subscribed to the daily inspirational quotes, and followed the self care hacks listed on the blogs and the “real talk” Instagram captions.
In spite of all my careful fortification I find myself burnt out, drowning in doubt. I am confused by the reality that I am snapping at people I love, eating everything in sight, bored by ideas the normally bring me joy, and ignoring the healthy habits I’ve worked so hard to create. The inability to control my sadness is beyond frustrating and I respond with resistance - fighting back outbursts of tears and the pain of not feeling like myself.
Becoming acquainted with this kind of despair is difficult. Not completely new, but certainly not anything that has ever stuck around. It usually comes and goes, which thankfully provides some relief from the incessant knocking at the door.
After a particularly persistent attempt to infiltrate, I finally stand up to unlock the door and find Depression sinisterly lurking on my welcome mat. I am hesitant to let him in, but begrudgingly allow him to step into my entryway while we get to know each other, if he will kindly remove his muddy shoes.
He looks uncomfortable and it requires all the humility in my heart to invite him to take off his coat and stay a while. He removes his outerwear and I can see him more clearly. Up close, I realize he is not as scary-looking as I imagined, and much more complex. I doubt we are going to become best friends, but maybe there is something he can teach me. Desperate and uncertain, my stare seeks the answers I hope he can supply.
“Slow down,” he reminds me.
I scoff. He doesn’t know my life and if I slow down how am I supposed to answer all the emails, and find new clients, and grow my business, and pay my contractors and my bills and get all the things done on time so I can be happy? My thoughts race towards another guest who frequently visits my mind: Anxiety.
“You don’t have to prove yourself through work,” he gently whispers.
“But…” I begin to retort. Though I don’t have the words to fill the silence that follows as I search for a sound excuse as to why I have been running so fast, pushing so hard.
“You are enough.” He smiles sweetly and I recognize that I have been doubting his wisdom simply because he is a foreigner and we don’t speak the same language.
Still slightly skeptical, I offer him a cup of tea and a few more moments of my time.
As we chat I can sense my body gradually relaxing, my muscles letting go of tension. Eventually it seems natural for him to take a seat and our conversation deepens. We discuss my history of trauma, my addiction to work. I share the stories I have been telling myself. I admit my longing for meaningful relationships and deep soulful connection. When I am done speaking, I listen. And as we become intimately familiar with each other my heart softens and my compassion grows. I have been judging him unfairly this whole time.
I have been judging myself harshly, too.
Slowly, steadily, my feelings towards him transform from fear and frustration to something beautiful - trust, respect. I still don’t fully understand his nature, but I am sure it is not as negative as I once thought.
As we communicate I see what he is showing me within myself - how I have been ignoring Grief, Anger, and Emptiness. They, too, would like a seat at the table. To be heard and treated as friends. These unwelcome guests have valuable lessons to share as well, if I am willing to receive.
Without realizing, hours pass and suddenly Depression stands and says it is time to leave. I am grounded again to the present and wonder if I should offer him a piece of cake for the road to thank him for the gifts he has left with me.
He departs and as I start to close the door behind him he turns to say one more thing.
“Darling do you see the sunset? This beauty, too, is temporary.”
I smile and decide to leave the door open for the next visitor.